USC QB Cody Kessler said meeting Nathan Garcia was a life-changing experience. Garcia lost his battle with brain cancer Tuesday.
By RAHSHAUN HAYLOCKFS West
Nathan Garcia, a
USC fan befriended by QB Cody Kessler and his USC teammates, died on Tuesday. He was 13 years old.
One of Garcia’s last wishes was to start a toy drive. He wanted to bring joy to kids who were facing a similar situation as the one he was in.
The toy drive was a success. Nearly 4,000 toys were collected in Bakersfield as a result of Garcia’s wishes. Garcia wanted to be able to pass out the toys to other kids who were suffering like him, but KGET-TV reported he was unable to because of his failing health.
The toys collected are a part of the legacy he leaves behind and the impact he was able to have.
His biggest impact may have been on USC's third string quarterback, Kessler.
Kessler is also from Bakersfield and he befriended Garcia last month after Garcia’s parents reached out to him. He was Garcia’s favorite player.
Garcia was in attendance at the Coliseum for the
Trojans' regular season finale against Notre Dame as a guest of the Trojans. He met head coach Lane Kiffin and the players.
He became a friend of the Trojans. He received a phone call from Kiffin and texts from some of the players. None of them had the bond he and Kessler shared.
Garcia and Kessler were friends. Over the last month, when his schedule allowed, Kessler made trips back home to Bakersfield to spend time with his friend.
On Monday, when Garcia turned 13, Kessler was there.
On Wednesday, a saddened Kessler issued a tweet: “RIP Nathan Garcia. Thank you for changing my life forever. Miss you already, glad I got to say goodbye. Love you bud.”
Kessler didn’t speak to the media about his friend on Wednesday. He told Garcia’s family that he would wait a few days before doing so.
Over the next few days, the toys from the toy drive will be gathered and sent out to kids in the hospital in Garcia’s honor, just as he wished.